With summer rapidly approaching, it’s always a good idea to have ways to keep cool … and happy. In the wine department, easy drinking, low alcohol, crisp whites and rosés do the trick for both. But there’s a lot of wine out there, eh?  So what to choose? No need to overthink this, sometimes the answer is right there staring you in the face. Look over here, it’s a full liter size bottle with a traditional bottle cap firmly affixed to it. It’s 12.5% alcohol, it’s dry, it’s crisp, it’s the 2012 Berger Grüner Veltliner!


When I first started here at TWH, I remember being quite overwhelmed by the myriad of selections to be found among our bins. I knew a little about Bordeaux, but there were so many question marks in view that I was unable to even formulate a strategy as how to get the knowledge, so to speak. After saying “I don’t know, I haven’t tasted it” to customers several times over that first week, it hit me. I then changed my response to, “I don’t know, but I will tomorrow,” and would put aside the bottle in question, only to taste it with some of my wine-loving friends after work. That, combined with occasional staff tastings, got me up to speed. Well, technically, in the wine universe, you’re never “up to speed.” There are always new vintages, emerging regions, and less recognized grape varietals hitting the marketplace.  At the time, Grüner Veltliner was unknown territory for me. It was Memorial Day weekend that year, and forecasts were calling for warm weather, so among my weekend wines was a full liter bottle of Veltliner. There exists, among the core of my wine-drinking pals, a tendency to gravitate toward white wines that are less fruity and more on the sleek and zippy side. Needless to say, the Berger Grüner Veltliner was a smash hit!


Grüner Veltliner is the most planted grape variety in Austria. It is capable of delivering on several quality levels. At this fresh and easy level, the wines are known for having an herbal profile, often displaying aromatics of white pepper. They are a lean in the fruit department, but some show hints of stone fruit.  Buoyed by fresh acidity levels and coming in at 12.5%, it is a great refresher on a warm day or evening. Incredibly versatile in the pairing department, it suits a wide variety of cuisine including light fare such as herbal salads and hamachi crudo. It can also take on such mains as wiener schnitzel, roast chicken, oysters, and pork chops. The New York Times’ Eric Asimov had this to say about Berger’s Veltliner, “Fresh and expressive, with citrus, floral and mineral flavors that linger in the mouth. It practically invites you to have a second glass.”


So later that summer, my best friend was having a milestone birthday, and plans were made to rent a ridiculous place in the Napa Valley and have our own wine tasting as well as a couple of memorable dinners. Tasked with wine duty, I knew there would be plenty of time spent around the pool in the hot sun. A few liters of Berger Grüner Veltliner were perfect for the afternoons outdoors. The wine was not recognized by many partygoers at the time, but many of them now buy Veltliner every summer to remind them of the great time we all had.

Full steam ahead! It’s almost June; time for dads and grads and June brides. As the days continue to get longer and warmer, having some crisp, unpretentious white wine around is always a good idea. At 12.5% alcohol, the 2012 Berger Grüner Veltliner does indeed invite you to have another glass; and the price tag allows you to stock up as well. – Peter Zavialoff